Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review and GIVEAWAY: Burning, by Elana K. Arnold

Barnes & Noble

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447. 

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

I freely admit that my main reason for requesting this NetGalley was the cover.  It completely captivated me and is the kind of artwork I would put on the walls.  (Not that I ever could, since The Husband and I have completely different tastes in art and it's nearly impossible for us to agree on anything.  Hmph.)

I also freely admit that I know a girl named Lala.  And I can't stand her.  So I had a big ol' frowny face when I started reading.  It's unfair to the story, but I do have to say that it colored my opinion of the character.

The other reason I requested Burning?  I wanted to learn something new.

The Burning Man Festival--during which this novel takes place--is an event I didn't know too much about.  I pictured it as a place where a left-wing, alternative, radical crowd gathers for a week of drunken, naked activities.  Which it is, but it's also about art and community.  (PSA: be careful when Googling pictures, even if Safe Search is on.)

Arnold's writing is beautiful, even when it ventures into a more historical narrative than a contemporary novel.

Ben and Lala -- the protagonists and love interests -- stayed true to their characters throughout the story.  I questioned a couple of moments, like when Ben discusses not having sex with his ex-girlfriend.  What teenage boy is going to say no to getting laid the moment his girlfriend says she's ready?  But overall, the characters felt real.

I've read in other reviews that a lot of people don't like the ending.  I'm going against the grain here: I loved it.  It's not an outcome that I expected, which upped my review from three stars to three-and-a-half.  

And now for the fun stuff!

The good people over at Random House are offering a copy of Burning to one of my friendly readers!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  The winner will be chosen at random and will have three days to respond with contact info.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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